Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Rebellious Daughter

I spent this year at Josh and Michael's in New Haven again and although Sarah was not there to supply the weed, a lot of fun was still had.

We arrived at the seder table already a bit tipsy, nursing the pre-dinner cocktails Josh had prepared with grapefruit juice and potato vodka. As I sipped my drink, I was grateful to be in New Haven where I could imbibe throughout the proceedings, not just at the designated times (i.e. when we blessed one of the four cups of wine). It was also nice to not have a rabbi break out a measuring stick when it came time to eat the matzah. I hate the aptly named "bread of affliction" and nibbled on a small corner instead of an entire machine made sheets. (One year at my cousins' there was a dog under the table. I fed him the majority of my apportioned matzah. I'm sure he didn't poop for days.)

The seder plate was basically as I remember it from last year- parsley, avocado pit, haroset, bitter herbs and a beet to replace the skank bone. On the second night, I placed a container of pink cotton candy in the center of the seder plate to represent the fluffy "gay," which complimented the orange nicely. Josh and Michael take that orange (and feminism) quite seriously, replacing all the male gendered pronouns with female ones throughout our reading of the Haggadah. And when it came time for the Four Sons, er, I mean Daughters, I was given the honor of reciting the part of the rebellious one. "Let's just call her Dvora," Michael said.

I began to read: "What is the meaning of this service to you? Saying you, she excludes herself because she wasn't counted anyway when the Israelites left Egypt. 600,000 men left but as for the women and children, the best we get is a guestimate from the rabbis a couple of thousand of years later. It is really unclear whether most of the women left Egypt at all. So why do we even have to celebrate this holiday?" I took a sip from my cocktail. Rebellious indeed.

The Four Questions were recited by Josh who has remained nineteen whereas I have aged a year to twenty-seven. He stood on a chair and shook his booty and shimmied his shoulders while the rest of the table accompanied him in song.

In addition to the revision of gender, there were sly jokes and commentary throughout. A section that began with, "A long time ago," was sung to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie." A short while later, we sang a song about the enemies of the Jews throughout history that have sought our destruction and ends with thanks to God for, "saving us from their hands."

"Not without a few casualties," I added.

The couple of mentions of a "fiery angel," as in, it was God and not a messenger angel who saved the Israelites, morphed into a "flaming angel" instead. Technically, the two words can be interchangeable but the connotation is quite different on the second. Personally, I would've have very much like to be rescued by a flaming angel. If we had been, we would've probably ended up with better food and clothing. Or at the very least, we probably would've avoided the whole matzah enterprise.

The recitation of Dayenu was abbreviated because Michael seemed to understand the true meaning of the song- enough already!

And it was. Once again, the seder ended with the meal and more cocktails on the couches. In a fit of giggles I told Josh and Michael that they should sell tickets to their seders because for the first time since I was ten, I actually enjoyed them again.

L'shanah Haba'ah B'New Haven (Next year in New Haven!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big, Fat, Vegan Stoned Addendum

I'm in New Haven once again, spending Passover with Josh and Michael, of Salon "fame," and as we were reminiscing about what we could remember from last year's seder, Michael (who neither drank nor smoked) reminded us that we never found the Afikoman. Now for those of you that are unfamiliar, the Afikoman is a piece of matzah that is hidden at the start of the seder to be found by a child at the end of the meal (usually several hours later). The point of this exercise is to get young children to stay awake through most of the shebang because the kid who finds it gets a prize. (I used to try to negotiate and hold out for a better deal.)

Well due to our inebriation, no one went in search of the matzah that had been carefully hidden and Michael found it a few weeks later, wrapped in white napkins and tucked into a pile of Lilith and New York Magazines. It was in mint condition, albeit a bit more crumbled. No mold or spores had formed because matzah is like the Sahara- it is barren. Nothing can derive life preserving nutrients.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stoned Passover

My humorous account of my first ever nontraditional seder- gay, vegan and stoned- appears on today in the Religion section.

Though I have since learned that the pot seeds are considered "kitniyot," I don't feel at all guilty because I also ate rice and beans. Weed, rice, beans all make this hateful holiday more tolerable. (But Happy Passover to those of you out there that enjoy it. I am eating my final bagel and am already grumpy contemplating a week without bread.)

At the end of this excerpt from the essay is perhaps the best line I've written. Ever.

Well, first there was the absence of children to ask the Four Questions. Despite Josh's insistence that he was not a day over 19, I was actually the youngest at the table. I stood on a chair, as was my custom back when I was 8, and nearly hit my head on the chandelier. I recited the Ma Nishtanah, Orthodox Jew style, which is so fast you sound like the Matchbox Car Man. Our God is not the God of enunciation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To be 8-12 again..

Today, Warner Brothers announced they were partnering with Olympic champion Nastia Liukin to produce a new clothing line geared towards the 8-12 year old set. Hopefully the designers (cause I'm sure Nastia is not actually designing though I always do get a kick when celebrities claim to be involved in every aspect of production of their lines, perfumes, etc.) will not draw too much inspiration from the comic book Supergirl costumes, such as this:

Spandex on the balance beam but spandex on the school bus, not so much.

According to this release passed onto me by a friend who asked not to be named, the line should be more modestly cut than any of Alicia Sacramone's leotards.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

There's an Olympics for everything

First, there was a Jewish Olympics. Then curling appears in the real Games. And now the New York Times reports that on Sunday, the first ever Art Handling Olympics was held at a local gallery.

The event, the first-ever Art Handling Olympics — a combination roast, “Jackass”-style stunt extravaganza and excuse to drink a lot — drew about 200 people at its height who came to the Ramiken Crucible gallery to watch a dozen four-man teams (art handlers are, by and large, male, and, by and large, large) go head-to-head, demonstrating their skills with a lot of fake art and untold amounts of Bubble Wrap.

I am glad that MFAers do get the opportunity to win medals. Maybe one day, Creative Writing MFAers will also find themselves eligible for Olympic hardware. But what would our events be? Competitive coffee drinking? Competitive coffee drinking WITHOUT a bathroom break?

Any other ideas?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Better than a rain dance

It is raining today in New York, which is hardly an unusual phenomenon during spring, especially in a city that last summer seemed to trying to get its named changed to "New Seattle."

Now, I don't make a habit of checking the weather before I leave my apartment but that's why I have a Jewish mother who likes to call me to tell me what the weather is like on her side of Brooklyn. Anyway, her warnings are unnecessary during the three days after I get a hair cut or have my color changed. When I visit the salon, my stylist straightens my usually curly hair and I do my best to maintain the sleek shape for a few days thereafter. But Mother Nature almost always has a different idea.

Almost without fail, it will rain. If I walk out of the salon with straight hair, it will rain. I should be flown to drought ridden regions of the world, be given a blowout and then left in the middle of a cracked, barren field. It will be flooded by morning.

I am better than a rain dance.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Haredim Attack

If Fox is looking for a new reality television show hit, might I suggest that they look to the Middle East for inspiration. In the latest installment of When Haredim Attack, the Women of the Wall were again besieged, this time by chairs that Haredi men threw while the ladies waited to pray on the women's side of the wall (which is significant smaller than the men's side, mind you).

There is video of the incident, which I've embedded below.

At least some of the women have a sense of humor about the mess, remarking that they had been hoping for a place to sit when the men obliged them with the plastic chairs.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In honor of today's JOFA Conference

So today is the annual Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance conference in New York, and though I could not attend, I certainly couldn't let the day go by without at least noting it. Thankfully my friend, gaffer and photographer extraordinaire, Holly Hosman sent me the link to a music video she recently worked on.

In Fuck, Shit Stack, an excellent parody of rap songs and music videos, Reggie Watts spits:

I like women,
I like the concept of a woman.
I like to take that concept and reduce to an object.
I like to take those objects and put them in my video.

LOOSEWORLD x Waverly Films: Reggie Watts in F_CK SH_T STACK from LOOSEWORLD on Vimeo.

It also begins with an ode to grammar/language, which is also another way to my heart.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Um, Elana Sztokman over the Forward's The Sisterhood Blog, I think you might've been scooped on this one.

In a post entitled, Why Orthodox Girls Don't Figure Skate, Ms. Sztokman speaks about the difficulties that Orthodox Jewish women face when they want to pursue "non-traditional" careers- i.e. anything outside of teaching, nursing and the "therapies." Specifically, she is referring to her childhood desire to figure skate and sing. Of those types of aspirations, she writes:

Some professions demand working on Friday night, some demand “indecent” clothing, some are too “physical”, and some are just, well , pas nisht, or not done.

Hmm, I wonder where we've heard that story before.

Oh yes, right here.